Listen with your heart 用心聆聽 with Jo Wong

Daniel Szuc
Aug 2, 2018 · 6 min read
Jo Wong — “The underlying objective is to responsibly create great products, replacing sleepwalking with what the framework calls “Sparkle” — a state where individuals feel personal satisfaction with their work”

When Western people discuss heart they often refer to the organ or how a high fat or high trans fat diet or high salt diet is not good for the heart or “this person has a good heart”. It refers to 1 heart.

In Buddhist teachings there are 8 hearts in one person including eyes, ears, tongue, nose, body (feeling hot, cold, pain etc), consciousness (interpreter of the outside) as connected to the outside world with the inside world of intentions (mind or decision maker) connected to long term memory (the hard drive of all the information about you).

These 8 hearts work together as one and everything is driven by the 8 hearts working together.

Being busy

The Chinese character busy 忙 is made up of the heart on the left and death on the right.

When we are busy all the time it is not good for our hearts.

Speed the predominant force at work today and the implications on time well spent.

In Chinese language there are categories of characters made up of different components and heart is one example of a component. There are over 800 Chinese characters that includes heart as one of the components:

  • 開心 — Happy is open heart
  • 虛心學習 — Learn with humble and empty heart
  • 齊心 — United is an aligned heart
  • 快 — Fast is the heart disintegrated.

There are also many sayings in Chinese using heart as the major force.

For example use your heart to study or when someone sends their regards on happy or sad occasions, you would say 有心 (heart is present) instead of saying thank you.

Disconnected from our heart

We spend 30% of our finite life at work suppressing our hearts and numbing our body whilst damaging ourselves and the system surrounding us. We isolate our brain from our heart and our body and this disconnects us and impacts everything.

When we disconnect from the nature it narrows our inside world.

Cardiovascular diseases are the number 1 cause of death globally and more people die annually from cardiovascular diseases than from any other cause. An estimated 17.7 million people die from cardiovascular diseases in 2015 representing 31% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, an estimated 7.4 million were due to coronary heart disease and 6.7 million were due to stroke.

The closer we live together in terms of distance, the farther away we are from each other.

What is work?

3000 years ago our ancestors hunted for food to survive. The agricultural society started by growing crops and raising animals and this supported living in one place for a long time and with bigger populations.

The industrial revolution in the West in the 18th and 19th century came with mass production and changed nature of work to more repetitive work and longer hours of indoor work. Repetitive work is boring, drains creativity and makes it difficult to enjoy work.

Technology parks becoming the factories of the 21st century for knowledge workers.

The nature of and what it means to work has changed.

When people realised that some people are good at specific things, the division of labour started as did the organisation of work.

This also changed the social economic environment of groups of people where you get to trade items produced as a result of specialisation with societies now having hierarchies or classes.

Being busy = value

As the technology evolved in 20th century, work focused more and more on knowledge based work to ultimately improve productivity, efficiency and speed.

Now in the 21st century it seems like most of the work still focuses on productivity, efficiency and speed and at the same time there is growing concern that with AI developing so fast, robots are going to do all the repetitive work and we do not know what to do.

The very idea of being idle and not busy is unthinkable with schools teaching students that being unemployed adds a significant burden to society. So today in work, you feel honoured to be busy because that means you are valuable and capable.

Work perceptions

In Chinese culture, doing physical labour work is associated with hard work in farming and associated with poor, unstable, low educated and having a low socioeconomic status. This is why most Chinese parents give everything they can for their children to get an education and prefer their children to not do any physical labour work.

As technology becomes more sophisticated and as populations grow at a much faster pace, the education levels and environmental conditions have changed considerably over the past 100 years.

Yet the work perceptions of how we work have not changed much including how people work, what we make at work and how we make it.

It raises questions about the environmental implications of our work and how we treat each other in the act of working with and for each other. It also raises questions on elements like how people define themselves through work, implications on how much we are paid, our titles, our rankings and what is considered power.

As we focus on these elements in the current work environment our hearts may well become disconnected from ourselves and from others as we are not listening with our hearts.

Feeling numb due to speed

We want to grow food fast and raise animals fast to feed the ever fast growing population.

This is having a disastrous effect resulting in low nutritional foods that include chemicals that do more damage to ourselves, others and the environment.

We are obsessed with speed and poor diets and we seek fast solutions to deal with this including lose weight fast programs, quick diets and surgery to remove fat instead of taking care of our health in sustainable ways, watching what we eat and exercising regularly.

We are:

  • Breathing polluted air, drinking polluted water and eating food that is produced in faster ways with less nutritional value.
  • Living in noisy environments as also influenced by light pollution.
  • Numbing ourselves and disconnecting from our inner self.
  • Living in ways that are damaging ourselves from outside influences.
  • Not willing to confront the ever growing population and our wasteful way of consuming food.

Future of work

We often think work is work and outside of work is private life.

But we have always been connected to and part of nature.

What we do and how we behave impacts everything around us (meaning the “we”) and ourselves (the “connected me”).

Today, organisations treat people like miners in a data mine, extracting energy and resources from inside people as a transactional force with money as compensation for time. We need to improve this mode of work.

More time to reflect and more time to understand what we have learned.

What if we …

  • Defined work places that promoted values beyond money alone?
  • Promoted the idea of nurturing and developing people in their work beyond doing the delivery and transactional nature of the work itself?
  • Explored a deeper conversation about what a better job looks like beyond a pay increase?
  • Explored healthier hearts and reflective moments to learn in the automated world of work?
  • Defined a set of meta practices to ensure that we could make meaningful work and the environments to sparkle?

We look forward to the continued conversation as we seek to answer this — how can we create the environments for people to Sparkle to “make meaningful work”

    Daniel Szuc

    Written by

    Make Meaningful Work

    Make Meaningful Work

    How can we create an environment for people to move from sleepwalking to sparkle to make meaningful work?

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